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William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Sympathetic Portrait of a Child


              1The murderer's little daughter
              2who is barely ten years old
              3jerks her shoulders
              4right and left
              5so as to catch a glimpse of me
              6without turning round.

              7Her skinny little arms
              8wrap themselves
              9this way then that
            10reversely about her body!
            11Nervously
            12she crushes her straw hat
            13about her eyes
            14and tilts her head
            15to deepen the shadow --
            16smiling excitedly!

            17As best as she can
            18she hides herself
            19in the full sunlight
            20her cordy legs writhing
            21beneath the little flowered dress
            22that leaves them bare
            23from mid-thigh to ankle --

            24Why has she chosen me
            25for the knife
            26that darts along her smile?


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Carlos Williams, A Book of Poems. Al Que Quiere! (Boston: The Four Seas Company, 1917): 54-55. York University Library Special Collections 5773.
First publication date: February 1916
Publication date note: "Touché," Others (Feb. 1916)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/20

Form note: unrhyming rhythmic lines


Other poems by William Carlos Williams